featured post: “post partum” via miss conception

Just after the new year I got an email from a blogroll member pointing me to a post I had literally just read. What she had to say about it was more or less what was percolating in my own mind:

I read this post today and thought it would make a great featured post, as so many of us have felt the guilt associated with daring to complain about finally becoming a mom, and yet it is so freaking hard, especially the hormonal and emotional aspect mixed with sleep deprivation. It’s something I think most new moms are not properly prepared for, and we need to talk more about it.

Whew. There was a lot for me to unpack there. In the last two weeks I have written about perspective, “at least” and “just be EMOTION X” statements, and how this can all contribute to guilt and shame over the perfectly natural and healthy negative emotions that come with being a new mum. I remember reading once (and MAN, I cannot remember where) that having a new baby in the house is some seriously shell-shocking shit. Um, pretty much. No amount of reading prepared me for what was about to happen in my life. I was put through the wringer, a few times (and then once more for good measure) both physically and emotionally. And I felt like I could not talk about it. To anyone.

The main reason that I volunteered to help take over PAIL is this: This journey did not stop for me when I got pregnant. It got harder. I was alone with it all, and it nearly cost me. Until I found the odd blog where the woman was in a similar place to me and was touching on some of what I was feeling. I felt less alone. After I gave birth, and AAAAALLLLLL the emotions of the journey up until then caught up with me, I had to stop reading everyone for a while. I couldn’t take it. But then, I started to feel better, and I started talking more. Now, I can’t STOP talking. So really, my main raison d’être at PAIL is this: Keep telling your story, in whichever way you need to tell to tell it. Somebody needs to hear it, and you will both find healing. 

Which brings me back to the post “Post Partum” by ADSchill at Miss Conception. She begins by saying “birthing a baby is not roses and sparkles…” and then breaks it down physically and emotionally.

Physically: I am hurting. I’ll be honest here…my nether regions are a mess. Women don’t really talk about this side of post partum, especially on an infertility blog. But I feel that to be authentic and honest, I need to represent this part of being pregnant and giving birth.

…I had two tears. One in the obvious place (the perineum) and one on the side of the vagina. I was considered a 3rd degree tear. Of course there were stitches placed and lots of swelling…Oh yes, trying to poop with stitches…enough said.

And some other stuff about swelling and weight, and well… yes! The things nobody tells you!

Emotionally: Those post-pregnancy hormones are NO joke.

I am feeling a bit more stable now at 2 weeks past, but the first week was harsh. People don’t warn you about that first week. Well, I will warn you now, because even if you haven’t given birth I hope that you will.

There were a lot of crazy mixed feelings that first week…and well I guess there still are.

I’m going to leave it there, because I recognized so much of myself here, and I wish I had known that it was normal. I wish I had read this, or had someone say it to me. Now that I am about to give birth again, I read this and I remember. I read this, and I remember to be gentle with myself. And I thank A for writing it down for all to see.

This is brave stuff to admit for *any* new mum, but even more so in this community. There is such a pervasive fear that we will look like we are complaining and as such we sanitize or omit things out of sensitivity to our readers – to our friends. It is difficult, and brave, to truly not hold back and tell it how we see it. She does a MUCH better job of capturing this in her post than I can convey here – even if I quoted her. Truly. (My personal feeling is that sharing *all* parts of the journey is important for a realistic management of our expectations. And when we can’t read, we must also be brave and step away. It’s okay. All of it.)

Wherever you are in your journey, I encourage you to head over to Miss Conception and give this post (and its follow-up) a read and a kind word. After all, knowing we are not alone helped to get us this far. And we have miles and miles to go.

*****

ADSchill @ Miss Conception in her own words:

My hubby and I have been married for 6 years and together for a whopping total of 13. As high school sweethearts, we did everything in the so called ‘order’ you are supposed to: Date, college, marriage, cohabitate. We even started with the obligatory puppy to raise and waited 3 years before considering our next step. Fast forward 2 years – here is the picture… Polycystic ovary syndrome, meds, infertility, exhaustion. I have always been healthy, but it turns out PCOS was always hiding in the wings, waiting to rear it’s ugly head the moment I ditched the birth control. If I could kick my ovaries in the junk, I would.

UPDATE: Our first IVF produced two beautiful babies – a boy and a girl. I developed a hematoma which in turn began wreaking havoc in my uterus causing me to go into pre-term labor and deliver my precious twins at 20 weeks. We miss our angels desperately and are still hoping to see a rainbow after the storm.

Baby ‘Raz’ is expected on January 3rd, 2013 after a frozen embryo transfer. Raz was our last surviving frostie baby. (Cooper born December 18, 2012)!!!

*****

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news item: I’ve Been Drinking Through My Pregnancy

Drinking during pregnancy.

I’d hazard a guess that this is a hot button topic, and though it’s part of the title of this post, it’s not the whole point of this post. We’ll get back to that.

Last week one of the PAIL contributors sent us an email about the article, “I’ve Been Drinking Through My Pregnancy.” My knee jerk reaction before reading it (full disclaimer – I was someone who had a few drinks while pregnant with the full blessing of my medical provider) was along the lines of…oh great… another article where people are going to bash the author for making any number of responsible, informed choices with her own body while she was pregnant . Honestly? I was pleasantly surprised.

The author writes:

When I called my doctor to ask her what I could do to get some sleep, she said, “If you want, drink some wine. No more than one glass every other day. You’re not going to hurt anyone.”

I had spent the majority of nine months worrying about my water intake, my caffeine intake, my calcium, my folic acid, my weight, lunch meat, cheese, mercury in my fish, my cankles, that I was exhausted. When my doctor suggested drinking wine, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. It was precisely the permission I needed to make my own decisions about what was happening to my body.

Okay. So a show of hands here – how many women here have felt stressed about how to best  take care of their bodies and unborn child(ren) while pregnant?

NOW, a show of hands – how many women here have been lectured by friends, family members, and even strangers about how to best take care of their bodies and unborn children while pregnant?

In my personal opinion, when you travel the ALI road to pregnancy and parenting, you tend to research the crap out of … well, most anything and everything. For some women, it means that they end up afraid of doing, eating, or saying anything that would be perceived as being ungrateful for the pregnancy (read: the posts where women claim to not miss A SINGLE FACET of non-pregnant life – do you women really exist?). For others, it simply means they had time to research too much and drive themselves a bit batty. For many, the years of research and pages of questions we have peppered our medical providers with have allowed us to make informed choices that we feel good about…even if we’re afraid to admit it to everyone.

Recently, I admitted to a group of close friends that I occasionally had a glass of wine while pregnant and one of the women broke into tears. She told me later that it was so hard for her to get pregnant that she would never “play fast and loose” with her child’s well-being and confessed to being amazed that I am so “cavalier” with my precious babies. I understood her fears. But, I also knew that my miscarriage came during a time when I hadn’t had a sip of alcohol in two months and I was eating a low-fat, all organic diet. I was the healthiest I had ever been in my adult life and the worst still happened.  Also, this woman lets her son play football, which seems far riskier. I said none of these things. I just nodded, thanked her and walked away.

Ugh. It’s hard to get mad at someone whose judgment is coming from a place of pain. I get it. But it’s still judgment. People judge you for everything from how you become a parent to how you actually parent… the judgment seem to be never ending at times. However, I love the writer’s final point:

And no matter what motherhood path we choose, we all end up muddling through somehow. What’s more important than following rules is giving ourselves the breath, the space, and the grace to be the mother we need to be. And if we could extend that lesson to others so I don’t have to write this anonymously, that would be great too.

The main point of this post for me? The elusive “let’s respect each other’s parenting choices” card. Awesome.

*****

What was the biggest thing people judged for you during your pregnancy?  Eating cold deli meat, sushi, and soft cheeses? Having a drink? Sleeping on your right side instead of your left?  Highlighting your hair? — How did you handle it?

If you adopted, what kind of judgments did you face? Open adoption vs. closed? Domestic vs. international? Newborn vs. older child? Telling the child vs. keeping it a secret? Did people try to tell you the “best” choice (in their opinion, obviously)? — How did you handle it?

Do you think you have become more/less judgmental thanks to the ALI journey?

To you catch yourself giving unwanted/unasked for advice to others? Or do you bite your tongue?

*****

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